Just heard the only thing on the street from prostitutes coast to coast is anal sex.
-W.H. Tespid ERT
Posted by Tespid on November 23, 2016
Just heard the only thing on the street from prostitutes coast to coast is anal sex.
-W.H. Tespid ERT
Posted in Tip Jar | Comments Off on Tip Jar
Posted by Tespid on November 2, 2016
Just heard something happened in Kansas. I do not know what and the grumbling has fairly stopped. There are people on their way now.
Something about New Hampshire bubbling as well.
Check the news and your computer security.
W.H. Tespid ERT
Posted by Tespid on November 1, 2016
Still cooling, but here is the rub…
¼ cup Heath Bar Toffee Bits
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup coconut
¼ cup oatmeal (1 minute cook time)
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup all purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Cut in the butter until the ingredients gather in pea like clumps. Place in a container and refrigerate until needed. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coconut Cake Batter
¼ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
½ cup coconut milk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugar. Add extract. Beat in eggs. Add in the remaining ingredients by alternating milk with flour, baking powder, and salt. Place the liners in the cupcake pan. Add in a tablespoon of batter, then a teaspoon of crumblies, another tablespoon of batter, then top with a teaspoon of crumblies. The yield will be between 10-12 cupcakes. Bake in a hot oven for 15-22 minutes. Cool for an hour.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(courtesy Martha Stewart’s website)
8 ounces cream cheese softened
8 Tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese and butter untill smooth. Add sugar in two to three parts. Add in vanilla until the color is even. Pipe the frosting over the cupcakes lightly. I suggest in a zigzag pattern across the top. Make sure the crumblies can still be seen in some parts.
Italian Dressed Apples
½ cup of flour
2 beaten eggs
½ cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of fresh Italian Oregano
2 tablespoons of fresh Genovese Basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
1 large sweet apple cored and sliced into wedges
Corn oil for frying
Heat corn oil in a small frying pan. Pour the oil so it is at least two inches deep.
In four bowls place:
Dredge apples in the flour. Coat in the beaten egg. Roll in the bread crumb mixture. Fry 3-4 apples at a time on each side until golden brown. Season to taste if needed. When I made eggplant Parmesan last week I incorporated apples into the mix while preparing the eggplant. It made for a nice bright to the palette.
Final Notes: Tonight is a night without chocolate.
Pastied Pastry Cook
Posted by Tespid on October 23, 2016
Arcane XIII Death
By N.A. Jones
If I told you in plain day light, you would laugh and call me a bald face liar. The incredulous chatter would increase to a roar as you walked away. Despite the risk, I tell you these things on the eve of ten, when darkness is plain and even across my bone cheeks and chapped lips. Please note that the following tale is an act of repentance for deeds hidden from the sun’s burning rays. In this, I reveal my dire need to confess my blindness, folly, and forgetfulness since birth. The matter that counts is in braving the little embarrassments to tell the story not in relating the texture or color of the scenery. In this revealing, I ask you to suspend your dower need for facts, details, and orderliness of occasion. Instead, let the story meander in mood to encourage you towards a new direction of thought. At journey’s end, dawn will rise and the fog will dispense. At the end of this repose, I leave you in clarity to know the adventure was real no matter how ill timed and resolved in abandon.
The pain of being aware is so overwhelming that I cannot accurately convey how I suffer delusions. Come eight o’clock in the evening I smell death about my head. It lasts longer into the night as I lay down my head to drift off to sleep. The fear that I am about to die is so aggravating that I doubt I will wake in the light that haunts the edges of dreams and six o’clock alarms. The odor reminds me of my grandparent’s house. Those times, especially when in youth, I swore death lurked the corners and shades of every room. The scent is distinct. It dry point registers far up in the nose where the sinus cavities reach. It is a place as far away from wet as you can get under an Indian summer sun. In my memory, I roamed the corridors and rooms of Gran’dad’s house. While turning corners around furniture, my senses found the air acrid on the tongue and produced palms feeling crunchy with dry rot. Eventually, the burden to breathe under duress of stiff lungs could not overcome flesh seemingly poured through with formaldehyde.
Once I shut my bedroom door I realized a solemn space that looks over a decrepit steel mill on the opposite hillside and dirty river below. This delusion is Gran’dad’s inner sanctum layered over open eyes. Remembering his house as it sits motionless in my mind, I see it rest on a stone foundation. Turning to the left the vision continues, I see him sit up in a cushioned chair next to the piano. A right leg prosthesis balances on the bench to his left while a nylon sock curls over itself as he eases it over his knee to the stump. He was a diabetic and died of complications caused by the disease. I cringe with every blood test and urinalysis. Adult onset diabetes always has me on guard not to fall to an addict of sugar. Watching his hand massage the left stump, I suddenly wake from a trace remembering the other little deaths I anticipate finishing me through until death. These memories of him hurt down to the bone. One day I may be missing the same limbs. Right now, I am livid about practicing dancing around my bedroom in prosthesis. Diabetes crippling my joys, as well, is not what I want to bear under.
Some days being mindful of Gran’dad contorts my face and curls my hands. It is because the primary sense succumbs to an assortment of guilt and blame, nothing more. For some reason I covet the guilt. The pain it creates has become delicious and I start to secretly revel in my failings – cruelly so. Guilt is an action that warms me to defeat when I am afraid to succeed. Quietly I whisper to the wind that guilt normally warms me by swelling wide in my gut. Is fills every crevice taking away all normal hunger cravings. Correcting the temptation to suffer eventually rescues my psyche from an ever-abiding dull pain in my abdomen. Then I forget what tension I released from my torso to go emotionally blind for in an all-consuming abandon to escape hell pursued success – at least it plays out that way in my mind. Over the years, I tended to let guilt and history weigh my heart relentlessly. It is a trust issue and a burden of toxic shame that I have not exercised fully from my mind or body.
Tonight, I wake from darkness sullen. I wake to mindfulness to change. Intentional breath charges my freedom from consumption with sorrow of every memory I have of family genetics. After rising in the darkness, I see another illusion of Gran’dad’s house as I walk through my home. Right now, I feel comfort from beyond that moves me to survive passions and entanglements of blood family and old friendships. Furthermore, I am convinced that I will never be lonely in life nor abandoned when I meet death. For me, because of that scent, the veil is ever thin every day, especially as I sit quietly watching the sun shift around my bedroom. I reflect on the days when implicit joys of quiet succumbed to accusations of selfishness and suicidal tendencies. I never told the comfort of minding death and my ancestors. I tended to the grave then and the peace of Christ. I never knew how to tell without minding the white jacket and injections. I was happy. Now knowing fear in the slight just might dig the plot by my grandparents’ graves for rest. I crave quiet. I draw blood for silence. Time is a burden for Caesar not me. Aging is a plain faced illusion.
With no obligations, I woke before the sun rose. I dressed. I ate. I sat on the front porch musing starlight and felted cotton grey being patient and attentive above. At first light, I started my walk through the woods. Walking the cement path that winds Buffalo Ridge was the weekend habit after driving a two-hour commute five days a week. I knew the path’s curves and tree line growth by the creek bed. That day what I did not anticipate was the decapitated pigeon left dead on the path in the middle of the field. Walking up to the dead body, my instinct said it might be a warning – not necessarily for me, but others in the neighborhood. Gangs made up of youth and age fight by the creek’s shores and gamble in the drainage ditch.
I found the pigeon’s head separated from the body with the face turned to the left. No blood cascaded to form puddles. Extending from the neck, a ligament joining head to breast extended limp and crooked from the severed head. It looked like a clean snap and pull-much like what I envision farmer’s wives doing to Sunday chickens. Calming down, I began to be satisfied that the situation was contained. Still, I looked about trying to sight another pigeon. Seeing nothing, my heart swelled that a simple burial was in need. I ran to the house to find a plastic bag and a shovel. Pitching tools and windows inside in the shed was the last thing I did before remembering garbage pickup would drive by shortly. One prayer later and grey friar was gone.
This one small death and the front door of Gran’dad’s house loomed before me for three years. In the vision, I am already inside his home– safety now secured upon entering my home. My first thought in the calm was not to touch death again. Come five years later, I bed rocked my spirit to renew itself by pledging the Nazarene Creed. For me it was a matter of bridging loneliness and separation from God with activity. I was also raised a guard against plague by a spirit of violent death. Grey friar was not the last animal I saw that met violent ends. “Pearl Pureheart”, I met walking the railroad tracks. She was a blond bulldog with a cleanly severed head lying on the outside of the tracks. I still have not cried for her lost beauty and form. With every dead animal I see, I grieve a little prayer. Saint Francis may never leave me alone again. With the Creed, I abide by not cutting my hair. Secondly, I pledged not to touch the dead. There is something deeply ingrained in my soul concerning fears of the dead. My maternal grandmother’s soul was gone by the time I saw her in the coffin. Standing next to my mother at the viewing, I remember touching Gran’ma’s hand. In that moment, the pressure of mortality shifted. I went out to her and never fully returned to myself. Some long years afterward, I dreamed of unearthing her coffin to join her in finality. The insistence was not a matter of craving death. It was the last chance of knowing her. My mother’s anger and joy of her mother sit with me in a tattered pile of notes and photographs. For myself there is nothing to covet in place of her experience. When I intentionally searched my childhood, I unearthed memories that became sweet to my tongue, soothing pain from heartaches and acceptance into the family fold. Considering my mental state before and after her passing, I understand that conquering my fears of death’s veil became a personal conviction beginning in childhood. Some wisdom of God must have dictated the lessons important enough for her visage to visit me twice. As a result, I must take the time to note every occasion death makes itself known to me without claiming me from limb to mind.
At this age, I stare at moving shadows around my bedroom deep into the night before arriving at the foot of the witching hour. It is a chilling autumn night and I remember the beginnings of losing my innocence of the dark. At age eight, I found a cold spot in the bed by my feet. Even Gran’dad’s kindness of a full sized canopy bed was no protection from what I feared lingered in my room. Every time I see white polka dots on sheer mint green fabric, the demonizing starts over again. Ignorant of old wives’ tales, I did not know that a cold spot meant a spirit took home in my bed. When I worked up enough courage to look below the box spring, I found the pendulum set I had checked out of the gifted classroom the previous week. Pulling out the board, my mind drew wild conclusions. One of which was come Hell, demons, and the devil’s carriage, I was bound to the spirit world. The fears ended when a new bed in a new house replaced the cold spotted mattress.
I kept silent about the reoccurring cold spot terrors for years. At age ten, rebuffing my imagination once is all it took for me to shut up through graduate school. She did not understand how close I felt to the shades. One prayer or creative play with me may have ended disembodied souls tyranny in my mind. Familial kindnesses present themselves only for the sake of mourning and not for disturbing anyone’s mindset – no matter how delusional they are. “You are too emotional,” rings aloud through the corridors of everywhere I have lived. It is an echo that resounds only second to the sound that blood makes. Coming to the beginning of the wheel to turn, I wait again. I know now that I am older, I need no permission from my family and friends to demonstrate emotional need. Back then; asking for help was an unsaid forbidden. Now that I am looking towards middle age, I know I cried too few tears for my maternal grandmother and grandfather when they were alive and for their deaths. The well behind my eyes has grown dry with salt and air. Now I have no tears for anyone.
A deep-set ache for human touch made everything and everyone attractive. Despite being aware of foolishness embedded in this desperation, I fell in love. Some month of my sophomore year, come the crowning moon in a Prussian blue sky, the fascination with my love became an obsession. First, I must tell you that I do not practice necrophilia, nor am I a necromancer. Still, I found the anthropomorphization of Death a presence I could not turn away from easily. In the 1980’s Piers Anthony wrote a fantasy series titled The Incarnations of Immortality. Riding a Pale Horse was the first book. I fell for the main character Death just as quickly as the woman he courted did throughout the novel. Over the years, the book made a large impression on my subconscious. So much so, that I saw the image of the Great Reaper everywhere. Eventually Death’s image rode with me in the passenger’s seat every day I drove to and from work. Most mornings Death dressed me for home, work, and grocery shopping around town. Death slept in my bed every night. It is uncanny how the left side of the bed maintained a chill when I was mindful of presences other than my own. We never talked much, but there was a mutual understanding of care and companionship. One of the results of our intimacy was for me to respect Death as an individual who helped me to conceive comfort with the dead and their effects. As a teenager, still I had a difficult time coming to terms with my maternal grandmother and grandfather’s deaths. As a forty something adult, I still had not healed. Granma died before I turned nine. My grandfather passed when I was in high school. Both times, I was preoccupied with friends, homework, and rest. Because of my blinded youth and crippling selfishness, one of the biggest mistakes I made was never knowing the mark of child who cherished their elders when they were alive. Now I am livid at the emotive gap in understanding my mother’s experiences. I think of her parents and want to know of them through their eyes and experiences of the world.
Still, my emotional timing is terribly off. Despite the last opportunity I had to see and speak with them, there is no separation between us. Honestly, I do not sense they have gone anywhere. I swear Gran’dad is in the backroom of the house waiting for me to bring him dinner. Meanwhile, Gran’ma is sitting at the dining room table breathing shallowly through a facemask; one end attaches to her face, the other end wrapped around her left hand and hooks into an oxygen tank. Both apparitions are in need. For what, I do not know. Their voices would call out midday no matter where I am. I have wandered buildings before looking for the person calling my name repeatedly. No matter how many times I left my office and walked the building, I did not find them. However, upon returning to my office, I saw my family’s faces floating over my desk. After leaving that job, I have not seen my grandparents except once on the cusp of midnight on All Hallow’s Eve over ten years ago. The significance I learned from others. On the gentle end, a friend said that day is a holy day, if not the holiest day of the year. Its celebration marks the life passages of man even unto death. On that day, the barrier that separates us from death is the thinnest.
I had convulsions on October 31 for almost ten years. To manage before the pain in my head arrived, I began lying inert on the couch and mused myself by listening to children passing by and teenagers playing tricks on my front porch. Leaving the porch light off seemed the best way to bow out of the night’s festivities instead of embarrassing myself by being unresponsive. Every chance I tried holding out the candy bowl, I never was able to pull back from a trance that lasted past the small hours falling past midnight. I fought my lightheadedness and vacant stares for several years, each time it being futile to resist through until the next morning. One year I tried not to focus my eyes on shifting attentions. I resorted to closing them completely. As a result, I found solace in the dark of my eyelids and the muted sounds around the living room. The little frustrations came from images building in the shadows of closed eyelids. Meanwhile the sounds animated the pictures generated from within. As for the house’s echoes, there was no persistent hum of white noise to calm my nerves. Giving in each midnight, I came away with detailed visions for three days. What became a regular expectation every autumn would cloud my sight and wring my hearing every All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Soul’s Day.
After age thirty-two, these peculiarities associated with death and spirits no longer bothered me. Besides, all the relatives that meant something to me were alive in my memory and prayers – vivaciously so. Though dead, they were alive in my daily effects. As a result, by minding my emotional baggage, I lived more with the dead, than with the living. For years, despite all the life that teemed around me, I choose to walk shadows even under the sun. Congregations of shade, though providing emotional kinship, temporarily occupied a place where sunlight lacks. In my life, where I have sat in the dark, is not an entrance into some daemonic world. It can be a cave full of sorrow’s depression and ego wallowing. Then I did not know the importance of grieving over time. At least for me, rushing through the process tended to leave me emotionally stunted and nerves shot through. Though I choose foreboding darkness in its quiet decay, I choose now to be a day walker who is willing to bear sunburn. In retrospect, I may have never left the sun. I am mindful of the hard road it is not to focus on reliving the tangled memories of youth and their crystallization in skin and bone. I learned with my current loss that there is depth of spirit, loss of innocence, and draw to flame of spirit in occult practices and Christian mysticism. With my maternal grandparents’ deaths, I followed through mourning by seeking death in scraps of ancient wisdom and cult practices. Then, keeping company at the edge of the veil developed past habit to a religiosity of practical and personal ethics. I realized that I walk a grey line by observance and silence. While daywalking forces me into confession. This side of the median transition has shade encouraging me to face the dark aspects of myself. In all of this, death’s stagnant breath admonishes caution. I may be consumed somewhere in pitch black. I do not mind. Sounding the depth of my fears always has benefits.
I do not have a familiar spirit. It took years to understand that without yielding to a religious psychosis. The confusion and wonder began in middle school. It was not the dusty tome in the back right corner of the library. That did me in. It was a friend and a listening ear on Saturday nights. I never stayed over friends houses. Mutually we fell asleep on the phone in the kitchen or watched television in the middle of the family room in two separate houses. With some, I would talk until two in the morning, laugh until three and confess until first light. Other times, partially in the dark or alert by a casting bathroom light, I Iistened to my heart and meditated over deep seeded fears. Climbing into bed, finally yielding, I passed back and forth through a gateway of witchcraft that later yielded into Christ. On that journey, I came to know the difference between an indwelling ward, the Holy Spirit and a minion of the Anti-Christ.
My first trial of confusion came my junior year in high school. Over a pot of boiling grits, she said that the Lord blessed our family with contact with the dead. I became silent and immediately grief stricken. I wondered how far away from God our family was. I corrected myself quickly minding three generations of administration and pasturing in the Baptist church. As I remembered more grace on my Dad’s side of the family, I firmly pursed my lips shut. Pursing my lips distorted the talk in my ear of a shade’s religious understanding filled with gossip, fear, and hate. While I stirred the pot, fear continued to creep across my face. I stood in silence to clearly hear and watch every raised eyebrow and strained timber ion my mother’s voice. The thought that gripped my lungs was that if this skill lies within our family, it would never leave. At the core of her talk, I began to object whispering “no” beneath my breath. Fear had me cowering in the open wide of the kitchen floor. I became scared but knew I would eventually adjust. She went on to tell that after Gran’dad’s passing, in a dark night of prayer, she gave it up. All her powers she handed back to her God Jehovah. The ability to sit in concert with the dead and any psychic occasion that hinge pinned on her ancestors, was frightening enough to beg God to relieve the pressure and fright. Following her recounting of the visitation during her mother’s passing, I became even more leery assuming God left us a long time ago. I became so wary of my mind’s terror about death, that mother’s rationality for giving up gifts made sense to my core.
Grating pepper over my bowl of white hominy, I considered giving it all up as well. With every fork full, I considered giving every single blessing back to God. Shortly after settling into a thought of escaping death’s burden, it dawned on me that it would be an insult to God to do so. With another bite of butter and white, little irritations and doubts erupted in my gut that said, “You have a spiritual heritage that will never leave you.” Whatever my ancestors did has benefited our family for thousands of years. Who am I to give that up? What comes with fear and abandon is a comfort and assurance that God will never leave me even if I think myself in apostasy. If so, then no matter what I do, I can return, atone, and pick up the work where I let it lay.
At the time of this conversation, Gran’dad had died about two weeks ago. My family was in turmoil. Each day I saw Mother strain for a break in the tempest. She told me that the night he died mother felt someone wake her in the dark morning. Light barely cascaded through the window when she saw a figure sitting at the foot of the bed. She could tell it was an old man. He sat motionless and staring at her until she recognized her father’s face. She said, “Dad, it’s O.K. Don’t hold on to us. You can go Dad. We’ll be fine.” As the light changed in the corner of the window, the apparition rose then slowly walked out of the room. Mom put on her housecoat and ran downstairs to Gran’dad’s room. After turning on the bedside light and a few calls of his name, she knew he was dead.
After breakfast, we took a quick turn about the property. She recalled that her mother was the same way when her relatives passed. I do not remember accurately, but she said that Gran’ma’s aunts visited her the nights they left this world. Her mother and father’s family may have also visited her in the same manner. The ghosts never speak, but are dressed in particular clothing significant enough to be recognized.
Autumn is when the dream season begins and I always feel the eternal presence of fog come when the journey is a passage between worlds. The fog is a place to lose your dream body and find treasures beyond any concept of monetary values. Where I go in these deep REM nights, followed by lucidity, is to truth on one side of the veil waiting to pass through and clothe into reality. By blood and death’s inheritance, I am next line for some grace and I cannot argue with the weight of spirit in my chest. Four years ago I was visited by two spirits in my dreams, both of whom I can identify clearly. One is my mother and the other is my next-door neighbor. After I fall sleep, I wake in the dream lying on my stomach, face down in the pillow. Shortly after realizing where I was, I felt tapping on my left shoulder that stopped when I shifted my weight over to see who needed my attention. It was my mother in choir wear – black pants and a long-sleeved white top. She looked down at the floor, sullen. I did not ask her, “What’s wrong?”. I simply woke up. I had the same dream about one of my neighbors. How he came in the house, I will never know. That could be a question to answer for another journal review.
For both of these dreams I wondered what their spirits came to say. In retrospect, it felt like an admission of guilt over some wrongdoing. I think of the ancestral spirits that warned my mother and consider it the same admonishment for myself– they are close to death having come to warn me. I doubt that though. Perhaps, they have come to confess or perhaps, they are in need from me. I cannot seem to grip with the possibility of death’s pronouncement. I will think it through another day. Continual crossings of soul travel, blood lineage, and lucid dreams over each other, personally reaffirm my consideration that giving back this ability to see on both sides of the veil would be an insult to my maker and preserver of spirit.
So, in my own dark nights of the soul, I give quiet thanks. I have petitioned the Lord every year and I have come to find my answers lay in learning to sit and grow in personal power. No matter the fright and shock, I learn patience, silence, and stillness. I see death’s pronouncement then as a tool or an extension of my mind and arms. I have never viewed these skills as a glimpse of finality to abandon efforts and throw away little accomplishments like a used tissue. When the visions come without warning and my understanding is limited, I beg for reprieve from sight, sound, and dream. A one-year reprieve came with a change. The Lord gave me other tasks to complete. Now I know the burden may change, but the work continues. This fear and abandon cycle between the Lord and I went on for over twenty years. I finally gained enough clarity to say, “Thank you,” with patience and gratitude. What skills I gave up for lessons of grace in the backyard of my parent’s home developed into a quiet covenant with no expectations. Some days, under the oak tree, I stay silent and listen. I find guidance reveals itself in nature with patience. All this said, but not to forget, prayer in the church sanctuary is of primary use as well. In these past years, I do not feel as burdened or charged with a demanding task. Occasional talks with mother the weeks after Gran’dad’s passing, made it clear I was not the only one in the house inundated with the unseen. Now I do not complain, as yielding to God has granted me comfort with these skills. Christ has removed the initial fright of psychism that plagued my sleep since early youth.
Since this past June, mourning for my Dad’s mother seems a delayed knee jerk reaction. None of it seems real. Not even Dad’s phone call on the head of the month. She died the night of June 1, 2016 before receiving her transfer to the hospital’s hospice. I did not attend the funeral, so writing seems the best place to start to seek forgiveness, process grief, and commit apologetics. I only have a handful of memories of her and I am beginning to tear them apart for bare bones. I do not plan to bury or to pretty up the feelings that arise from these writings. On the contrary, I intend to use them to understand distant family and myself.
It all starts with her daily prayer for me. It lasted until her death, so I assume. Over long distance phone calls, she said she minded me as I was born to connect to her past. When I was young, she would recall an aunt or a cousin I looked like. As I grew, I triggered more memories of herself as a child. In her talk, she made solid blue shadows and fractured memories recall a cogent tale of my childhood before I was aware. Listening to her, I came to know more of my parents than they were willing to offer. According to my father’s mother, my mother and father met when she was a candy striper. She hit on my father while he was in the hospital. Gram said mother went after him with abandon and no care in sight. For the divorce and parental control, there was more drama and tack that occurred than typed onionskin can ever tell.
In the aftermath, I regret not making more phone calls to her tableside in the kitchen over 2,000 miles away. I sit leery of my decision of not taking the seat on the airplane to do my final duty as granddaughter. Still I wonder if these are the things expected to fit the mold of properly mourning. How am I to acknowledge my anguish and fear in the moments that tore me away from that tabletop call for over a year? Can I really cut with a blade that enforces all the remaining will of the dead are right and deserve obeisance if but until they pass over completely – the skin not to touch. I find that realization best resolved during a wake. Because I hold to older traditions, people call me crazy and lame. Should older practices not be preserved and practiced, if not just for the sake of the living not haunting the graveyard for resolve? I… I do not regret my steps. How can I not piece the occasions of my life together with her as a fixed personality to revolve? I will know more of my ancestors, their beginnings, and myself, given time. If I pay close enough attention, maybe I will find the foundations for who I am now.
Gram told me that she prayed for me every day of her life. Who will pray for me now? Old women have powers that do not reside just in their loins. That gift of a prelude to motherhood decays. The act does not last. Power resides in the memory and in blood. Her prayers and love for me, is in the abstract now; it is in my hands now; it is in my speech. Listening to her, the memory skips days, eras, and later fades. Still, there is much more to be said even in rhyme and clapping out a rhythm. Never mind my arguments of her dependence on a cult; spirit resided with her. It may not have been the Holy Spirit, but an air of observance and reaching for the holy always lingered by her blind eyes. Spirit or cult, I accepted her prayers as an elder blessing to the young. Because of her, my walk just might change. I feel the need to seek out her patience and abandon in my aging. Knowing in the end her reticence and reserve, I will take heed of my Father’s words for me. My walk has changed.
Even when dressing her freezer macaroni and cheese with American cheese slices and bacon, she did not lie and confessed of her comfort foods despite the cataracts and sugarless treats. Spirit may have lulled her into calm and comfort when there was nothing else to do for the sugar, for the salt, or for the pacemaker that sat over a triple bypassed heart. Because of her, I will learn to heed. I can take a lesson from how she heard me and how I fought my pride to listen to her. I know. I know. Sue the doctor. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains. Get an eye exam once a year. I live in poverty just as much as she lived on a fixed income from her deceased husband. I gather the simple meanings of her death, but the elder lessons I feel far from.
In the last year, when I finally got to her apartment, I began to learn pain. I did not study the sprain your ankle and sit up for the afternoon complaints. I did not school the two o’clock headache from the afternoon meeting irritation. I suffered the oxycotton pain. It is the bleary eyed and cannot focus pain as I stand in front of you forgetting my name type pain. I watched her fixed hips pinned in the roving chair all day, every day I was there. I never heard scuffling with the walker to make it into the bathroom for relief or dressing. I watched pain sacrifice the body every morning while I strained to hear her voice in the dim light. My pain is a joke. My complaints reveal my shame. I owe Hecate time in the field for my meager apologies will never make up for this. The lessons I will eventually learn of her pain are that of an old woman. In college, Hecate used to call me from the lower damp caves. Hecate hones the bone and the eye. Discernment from an 87-year-old woman’s eyes is sharp and a blood prick to the finger. In my youth, distracted by the vista and distance, I was never attentive to what lay in front of my face. For now, I will mind the futility of picking up a magnifying glass to read the Bible with old eyes. I will forego the strain and memorize the gospels as if I was a blind Muslim charged with learning the Koran orally. I will sit in my bedroom window pushing the pane open so I can hear the rainstorms at one in the morning. I will start with Luke and quietly mutter incantations for lightning and ground shaking thunder. No doubt, it will flood and I will quietly accept the blame under an Indian summer sun. I remember the last visit. She brings me asunder over 2,000 miles across state lines. She prays for me the first night. I hear mumbling and my name from the bedroom. I look into her face after twenty years and see no lines, no hatred, and no pain. She is blind and loves me. All the shadows cast are behind me and fall fore as well as behind. An estranged past lingers between every conversation and hug. I have not forgotten. Her occasional glare confuses me as she tells that she has not forgotten the little resentments nor the secrets of divorce. Parents aside, it is just her and I tonight. I talk of magic from my mind to my hands and my eyes, but I speak nothing of family in the daylight. Neither side of the family speaks anything of death.
I romance every notion and motion of atonement, praise, and humility from both sides of my DNA. For weeks I waited long nights to call my Dad to listen to him speak of her death or of my relatives current and gone. I waited to hear his voice just to feel welcomed in the corn-filled shoes, scarred knees, cut finger pads, and burned thumb knuckles of a body I called home. When those nights did come, with him I did not feel lost. Where I felt I was losing presence was in my work. Despite expecting her death after the heart attack in May, I expected her to recover as usual. I felt a skip in my life path and my work suffered for it. Naysayers saw my decline and missed no beat in criticism. All the old slights and misgivings reappeared. I felt eviscerated and lost my balance. For all my naysayers’ talk of the intimations and accusations of lacking relevance, being an archaic throwback, and of shunning blackness as an identity, from Dad’s words, I had a place, history, and a family to welcome me home. My peoples come from churches, doctors, and chiefs. So, Dad tells, our peoples were here before Europeans. Our ancestral clans survived disease, famine, and war.
So, I wait to become an old woman. Excited, sometimes I am in a hurry, but I am learning to slow down. Passages and knowledge of adulthood and childhood are still set before me to learn. So maybe I should not be in such a hurry. I have much magic to learn of life passages. Being patient is all I cling to in the dark hours of the day. What it seems is that I need to learn my grandmother from different perspectives not just that of a child or a granddaughter sitting in patience and respect. Maybe I need benefit to know her as a woman. Maybe, just maybe, I will take on my Dad’s eyes and his memories of her. It will take the keen skills of a griot to approach it through oral histories and writing. I am sure I will have something to speak of the dead within and through a year of mourning. Grandmother’s passing will not be the only lesson of death to begin again to start. I will carve a place out of memories of family, friends, and cemeteries. I have roamed these memories to commit to concrete words and images in order to take permanence in my mind. Lessons to share linger in the coves of brain lobes as well. Desire to know the cycles and age of man craves in the swells of these two hands. Despite all of this, I am not seeking an auspicious beginning. I just want my eyes to see the daylight and motivate the willingness to seize it every day I can.
In my grief’s depression, I wait for the death that will claim my creativity and dower need for sunshine. It will be a death of intimacy with my work. Love and honesty burden my shoulders to bend me as far as I can forward from the years that have honed me. Come that day, I will rent my clothes and forego scrubbing ashes into a freshly shaved head. I will feel bone marrow aching with every rhythm of my heartbeat. I will wait to die and join my passions in cedar or steel if they are not quick enough to catch me by the third night. Agony and ecstasy will have my hand even past death’s ward. I will linger in exquisite anguish for eons married to my drive in brush, pencil, pen, and paint.
©N.A. Jones 2016 All Right Reserved
Posted by Tespid on October 22, 2016
This landed in my lap about a night or two ago. I’m holding a pattern in disbelief, but I’ll post anyway. Day is fairly bright even outside direct sunlight. Shadows distort depth.
I was told that white supremacists are researching diseases and feigning symptoms from old medicine tracts. The diseases they act out in front of a doctor are normally treated with methamphetamines. In cases around the county I live in, the performance in the viewing room is made of explanations, crying, and pleading. The solution to there ills is known to be similar to what is sold on the street as Coca-Cola Meth. The prescription gets written and the patient is off to the pharmacist where it is possibly filled under duress. The script gets filled and later sold on the street.
My source was brief, but I might be in luck within the month with more.
~W.H. Tespid ERT
Posted by Tespid on October 19, 2016
If I was not so doubtful, I’d swear there is a war that attacks women everyday. Most of us are never aware of being in the front of the theater getting land blasted to tears and sickness. It is always nervous exhaustion before the sore throat and upset stomach. Healing need be done double duty, but there is always the dishes.
So, I’ve been stewing with this bit several years. I might have already sung. Regardless, you need know. The quilt shop I was attending open studio during the week turned into a gay brothel according to the word about my town and others. The original shop owner had sold out and new management was in place. I was warned before new management took over never to return. Something was not right and they did not want to see me hurt. I heeded for a week that turned into years. That news is old. Today’s is fresh. I was told not to step into another quilt shop. There is a prostitute war going on. It is between the heterosexual prostitutes and the homosexual ones. Even just stepping into the store makes you suspect on either end of sales and services. The canary that blew into my ear intimated it was not just in this state but others.
I’ve still got to buy fabric and have my machine souped up at least every two years. I’m sidin’ for big town in the manufacturing district and big box stores. Hopefully service and goods will come through to excellent quality at an affordable price.
Just thought your should know.
~W.H. Tespid ERT
Posted by Tespid on October 10, 2016
The typical palate will approach an apple pie with vigor and vim. I however, over this last year, have begun to cringe at baking a red delicious or granny smith. The adventure was secured when I flipped out over a Fuji or a Chelan then followed with browning Georgia’s blush in a peach inside a cast iron pan. My first pie this Indian Summer blended those and omitted the sugar. The sweet ripe of all three nature’s beauties came through in a simple Amish pie crust. Today was the culmination of a month of planning. I wanted to try something that has never been done in my family’s household. Vague and distant memory minds my mother saying she did not like the taste. Vague and distant memory calls both sweet potato and pumpkin pies to techniques of building sound custards. So, today I took a hand a baking a pumpkin pie with a twist not published on the can. I just finished a piece and am happy. Someone suggested I post. Thus and so here we are and I preface a warning to the wise: take your time. I started with the homemade applesauce yesterday. Mind you, it has no sweetener in it. Bake time is an hour plus if the toothpick does not pull clean. Cooling time is two hours. Chilling is another hour. Again, set aside and take your time.
Monday, October 10, 2016 2:09 p.m.
2 cups pumpkin
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites whipped to stiff peaks
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup half and half
1 9″ pie crust
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a non-reactive bowl combine the pumpkin, applesauce, molasses, granulated sugar, ginger, cloves, salt, egg yolks, buttermilk, and half and half. Fold in the egg whites. Pour into the pie shell. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 40-50 minutes. Pull from the oven when a toothpick pulls clean from the center. When finished set on a cooling rack from 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate.
Notes: The texture after chilled is similar to mousse being fluffy and moist. I am debating reducing the amount of liquid for a more compact and firm texture. In other words, to change the approach to be more akin to standard pumpkin pies. For now I am happy. I am also anxious for another piece. I slipped my first piece into a tablespoon or two of half and half then a light dusting of sugar. I ate every bit. My second pass on this may be in a month or two or during the end of the frost this winter. I’m tossing into the pie chemistry for a second pass, honey, and for a third pass, cream cheese.
Pastied Pastry Cook
(Your pick: The floor or the linens? The dishes are done and put away)
Posted by Tespid on September 18, 2016
Yesterday I had to find a way to work with pinto beans differently. I decided to think vegetarian and follow where my hunger led me. It has been difficult to eat anything as allergy season has arrived. I’ve started dipping back into the milk category and mucous/phlegm is on the rise. The following was a safe bet, but I feared having no flavor. So, remove the cumin and chili powder you might find a poor excuse for texturized vegetable protein.
September 18, 2016 10:24 p.m.
Appetizer/ main Dish
Cook one cup of pinto beans (dried and soaked) slowly over four hours. Season lightly with salt. Mash and cook the liquid down.
¾ cup of mashed pinto beans
½ cup of bread crumbs
½ of one egg
½ teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of chili powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 medium carrot diced
1 small onion diced
1 rib of celery diced
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sautee carrot, onion, and celery in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until the onion is translucent. Mix with the other ingredients in a medium bowl. Oil one cake pan lightly on bottom and sides. Press in the bean mixture. Bake for 40 minutes or until the mixture pulls signifacantly from the sides. Place 2 tablespoons of bean mixture on a plate with ¼ cup of white rice. Drizzle with poblano-chicken gravy. Eat.
Beware your taste buds, this may be an acquired taste for those who depend heavily on meat to satisfy their hunger.
Pastied Pastry Cook
Posted by Tespid on September 16, 2016
Hot Smothered Corn
Use one Poblano Pepper – half, blacken, scrape, boil flesh ½ hour ‘til soft in one cup of water, puree, and run through a finely meshed sieve. Return at least one cup of liquid to the pot. Add one more cup of water with 2 teaspoons of powdered chicken bouillon. Thicken with ¼ of cold water and 1 Tablespoon of flour. Simmer to thicken.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of butter in a cast iron pan. Add two finely diced cloves of garlic and one finely diced small onion. Turn through the oil until the onion is translucent. Add the kernels of two shaved ears of corn to the pan. Cook the corn until lightly browned in the pan. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Season the corm mix lightly with freshly cracked pepper. Finally toss or smother with the Poblano gravy. Serve. Eat.
Note: A friend of my mother told me of an Amish dish that consists of corn, potatoes, and cream gravy all nestled under a piecrust top. With that in mind, I plan to add country fried potatoes into the mix. About two years ago, I was hooked on adding fresh Poblano peppers to country-fried potatoes along with onions. Adding potatoes or a piecrust will not be too far of a reach into smothering with the fried corn.
Lastly balance the salt content overall considering that the elements of this dish are prepared separately before combined. Remember the powdered chicken bouillon has a high content of salt in its body.
© N.A. Jones 2016 All Rights Reserved
Posted by Tespid on September 10, 2016
Posted by Tespid on September 8, 2016
Forgive me now for blaspheming the system, but what I just heard blew my hair back. Consider it gossip for now if but for one reason; I am leaving all names and professional issues aside and out. Apparently a low level employee at an art museum was fired. In the midst of coming to his former job in the middle of the night to clean out his desk, someone got there before him. namely security. They found a large cache of black pornography in his desk and assigned storage. Upon arriving at the site he was not able to enter the premises. The director of the museum called him a few hours later asking where and why did he bring the pornography to the museum. He has his excuses, but none the Director was willing to accept. The fired employee is now being sued by the museum for back pay to his date of hire.
But wait! It does not end there. To his defense to bargain for time and monies, he told the director about late nights at the museum. Employees at his level have access to the museum after hours to meet deadlines on various projects. While working those nights he brought prostitutes into the museum to keep him company. Someone on staff gave him a key to access a secluded bedroom in the museum. He used it as well as others and their is a plethora of dead bodies in the bedroom to testify to it. Only one so called dead body escaped after the fired employee made a deal with the police. She was found barely alive and delivered to the closest hospital by paramedics.
I am not a Director of a museum but I can’t help but feel the weight of breath on the back of my neck by a cadre of museum trustees around the planet. I’m empathetic, what can I tell you? As I heard this told to me I slowly pulled up into a ball and cringed. Conservation and Preservation crews will never sleep again at this point. Insects in dead bodies make for insects in paintings and sculptures; not to mention them hiding in the crevices of buildings.
My heart is heavy and I am terribly curious if this will play out in the public eye. Anyway, that’s the scoop for early autumn.
~W.H. Tespid, ERT
Posted by Tespid on July 30, 2016
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Posted by Tespid on July 30, 2016
Right-wing assaults have been launched against Venezuela’s participation in regional bodies such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the South American Common Market (Mercosur). However, social movements and progressive governments in the region have continued to advocate for Venezuelan sovereignty and the call for dialogue amongst all sectors of society.
Ricardo Guerrero, president of the Foundation Little Big World (Pequeno Gran Mundo), recently participated in the Mercosur Social Summit in Montevideo, Uruguay, a social movement-driven process which accompanied the state-centered gathering focused on regional economic initiatives this month.
In this interview, Guerrero explains the roots of the Mercosur Social Summit, the role of social movements in economic decision-making bodies and the defense of rights for differently abled people in Venezuela.
Q: What is your organization about?
In Venezuela, we have recognized every disability but dwarfism is “underground”, so to speak, and we work to visibilize our community’s reality and advocate for our specific needs and rights.
[Our organization] is a revolutionary social movement, committed to the Revolution in Venezuela and we are involved in all social movements in the country. We are part of the construction of the Bolivarian Process.
Q: What are some of the changes that have taken place throughout the Bolivarian Process regarding differently abled people?
A: First, with Chavez, we were able to guarantee because of social movement pressure, of course, the participation of people with disabilities in the National Constituent Assembly process in 1999. From this, came Constitutional Article 81 which outlines the rights guaranteed to people with disability. In all of Venezuela’s Republican history, nothing on a constitutional level had ever been contemplated for people with disabilities until the Bolivarian Revolution and now we have an article that defends our rights.
The next achievement, was the creation of the Special Law for People with Disability that focuses on the advances in employment, healthcare, architectural access to certain public spaces, access to housing and the right to study for people with disabilities. In these last 17 years of Revolution, more people with different abilities have studied more than we’ve ever seen in Venezuela. We have also guaranteed institutional support for people who need wheelchairs, cushions, beds, homes and even cars that was unthinkable in Venezuela before. Now, people with disabilities are taken into account.
One of our latest achievements has been, as a political movement together with President Nicolás Maduro, the creation of the Presidential Council for People with Different Abilities. We are spread across all of Venezuelan national territory. We have created municipal and state councils and have a general coordination comprised of people with disabilities.
This has never happened before in Venezuela. In this last case, we are working on a presidential level building a direct relationship between the people and the president. As President Maduro says, the people are the president. What does this mean? This means that more and more each day the people are taking up more political spaces of power and more political participation.
We also have a television show on the Venezuelan National television channel, VTV, by and about people with disabilities which is an important feat. The show acts as a window to share the world of disability and visibilize our community to the rest of Venezuelan society.
Today, we can say that there are close to 200 organizations specific to people with disabilities in Venezuela. This is thanks to the great impulsor Chávez who began the work to visibilize vulnerable groups in society like Afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, the differently abled as well as the sex and gender diversity community.
Q: What are the roots of the Mercosur Social Summit?
Mercosur, as you know, was formed on a South American level to establish a common market. Fundamentally, the organization was focused merely on economics and commerce between member states and big businesses in the region. Mercosur began with Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Later, with Chavez, Kirchner and da Silva from Argentina and Brazil respectively, created conditions so that Venezuela could be integrated into Mercosur.
Although focused on economics and commerce, with Chavez, we could no longer just see Mercosur summit’s as only gatherings between presidents but we also advocated for the people to participate. Chavez began the discussion to open space. He saw the need and accepted proposals from social movements to move forward with a people’s initiative.
In 2009, the Mercosur Social Institute was created and charged with consolidating all the social movement proposals for member states to consider and implement. Afterward, the UPS, Support Unit for Social Participation, was created in 2013. We have organized 20 social summits. Now, Bolivia is a member and Ecuador is working in a process of integration.
Ten people from ten social movements from each member state participate. In this last summit, we had representation from indigenous peoples, students, workers, unions, women, people with disabilities and youth movements among others. We also had representatives from the trueke (barter system) movement here in Venezuela. The only social movement organization focused on disabled rights was our organization, Little Big World.
Q: What declarations came out of the Mercosur Social Summit?
On this occasion, we declared ourselves anti-imperialist and we took on this characteristic to oppose imperialism and all its pretension to return and dominate the region. We also unanimously denounced the coup in Brazil and we extended our solidarity with the Brazilian people and we hope that Dilma Rousseff rightfully returns in her role as president.
We also denounced ourselves against the massacre in Curuguaty, Paraguay. We consider that since the coup, Paraguay is governed by a nefast state and dictatorship that returned to power illegitimately.
We also extended our solidarity to Bolivia and support the country’s right to the sea and against the privatization of their water.
There was also a unanimous show of solidarity with Venezuela and against the economic war as well as the National Assembly which in a way is boycotting its responsibilities and trying to destabilize Venezuela and promote violence through violent guarimba protests and call for a coup.
All the social movements also denounced Obama’s extended decree. While certain member states of Mercosur did not want to transition the president pro tempore to Venezuela, during this summit we were able to guarantee this transition.
Venezuela, accepting and transitioning into this responsibility, is now charged with organizing the next social summit this year, in December. It will most likely take place in Caracas or Falcon state. Venezuelans at the social summit participated in all the working groups and in the elaboration of the final document.
And of course, we declared ourselves in rebellion and struggle and called on all our social movements to design and adapt a common social agenda from Latin American social movements.
Q: What other work does the Mercosur Social Movements have to do?
We’re advocating for more democracy, more participation and more institutional support from the UPS and the social movements, we want the Social Summit to transcend this gathering. We firmly believe that we cannot stay on the discursive level. We cannot only write documents but, we must also establish common commitments and agendas for all social movements across South America and Latin America.
Mercosur at one point also had a very academic-centric approach and we social movements don’t ignore the academic or intellectual aspects but those cannot be our centerpieces, they must be integrated into our movements. Social movements are experts in areas of economy and technology for example. We are actively working toward building a shared agenda from the autonomy of our movements.
Specifically, from the differently abled movement, we proposed to create a common market across member states to aid in technical support for our community.
Now, it is essential that social movements have greater participation in social movements especially against the neoliberal offensive and the replication of FMI and North American imperialist policies. Social movements, we are the hope, and we are a bloc that inspire alternatives aimed toward the liberation of our peoples. We cannot only limit ourselves to the institutional mechanisms of Mercosur and stay at the presidential level. We need to figure out how to make our states accountable to social movements and the people.
Q: What were the impressions you took away from the Summit?
It’s tough, no? We’re speaking about a commercial and economic organization. Of course, there is a contradiction between the accumulation of wealth, capital, labor and social aspects. This means that Mercosur needs to resolves this tension between the states and businesses but in conversation with social movements.
We do not want to only present proposals, but we want to make decisions in regards to public policies and the re-design of our vision of the world from the perspective of the people. Everyday people are advocating for more participation in the political and economic spheres. Mercosur is a tough institution. But, it is a space that we need to take and to transform. There are organizations that from their trenches, from a more anarchist perspective do not believe this but, I believe that we have these spaces and we need to take advantage and transform them from the inside and pressure changes from the outside.
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Posted by Tespid on July 30, 2016
This post originally appeared at BillMoyers.com.
Thursday night, Trump spent considerable air time speaking (more like yelling) about how America’s steel and coal workers have been ignored and sold-out for decades by both political parties. He promised to bring back those long-disappearing jobs and to put their needs front and center in his administration. As the daughter of a steel worker, I admit it was nice to finally hear someone talk about how the old industrial working class was robbed of their dignity and livelihood, with little regard for the devastation left behind.
But that working class—the blue-collar, hard-hat, mostly male archetype of the great post-war prosperity—is long gone. In its place is a new working class whose jobs are in the now massive sectors of our serving and caring economy. And so far, neither Trump nor Clinton have talked about this new working class, which is much more female and racially diverse than the one of my dad’s generation. With Trump’s racially charged and nativistic rhetoric, he’s offering red meat to a group of Americans who have every right to be angry—but not at the villains Trump has served up.
The decades-long destruction of American manufacturing profoundly changed the working class—neighborhoods, jobs and families. What had once been nearly universal, guaranteed well-paying jobs for young men fresh from high school graduation were yanked overseas with little regard for the devastation left behind.
To add insult to injury, the loss of manufacturing jobs was often heralded as a sign of progress. As the economic contribution of these former working-class heroes to our nation dwindled and the technology revolution sizzled, in many people’s minds, millions of men became zeroes. They seemed to be a dusty anachronism in a sparkling new economy.
Black men, who had fought for decades for their right to these well-paying jobs, watched them evaporate just as they were finally admitted to competitive apprenticeships and added to seniority lists. When capital fled for Mexico or China, the shuttered factories in America’s biggest cities left a giant vacuum in their wake, decimating a primary source of jobs for black men that would never be replaced.
The economic vacuum would be filled with a burgeoning underground economy in the drug trade, which was met with a militarized war on drugs rather than an economic development plan. That war continues today—the scaffolding upon which our prison industrial complex is built and the firmament upholding the police brutality and oppression in black communities that result in far too many unarmed black men being shot and killed by police.
As for the once privileged, white working-class man, the dignity and sense of self-worth that came with a union contract and the trappings of middle-class life are sorely missed and their absence bitterly resented. In the absence of real commitments from either political party to promote high-quality job creation for workers without college degrees, conservative talk-radio’s echo chamber and the rhetoric of far-right conservative politicians have concocted a story about who is winning (and taking from government) in this post-industrial economy: African-Americans and immigrants.
These are the contours shaping our nation’s political debate.
Donald Trump has hitched his presidential wagon to the pain of the white working class, though far more rhetorically than substantively. With his anti-immigrant pledge to “build a wall” and his unicorn promises to rip up trade agreements and bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores, Trump promises to make the white working class “winners” again.
But the sad reality is that his campaign represents nothing more than yet another cynical political ploy to tap the racial anxiety and economic despair felt by white working-class men. It is a salve to soothe with no real medicine for healing the underlying wound.
Trump, and the Republican Party more broadly, offer no solutions or even promises to address the grave economic insecurity of the broader working class today, whose jobs are more likely to be in fast food, retail, home health care and janitorial services than on an assembly line. Unlike their predecessors, today’s working class toils in a labor market where disrespect—in the form of low wages, erratic schedules, zero or few sick days and arbitrary discipline—is ubiquitous. Gone are the unions and workplace protections that created a blue-collar middle class—the best descriptor for my own family background. Today’s working class punch the clock in a country with the largest percentage of low-paid workers among advanced nations, with the paychecks of African-Americans and immigrants plunging even further, particularly among women.
Thanks to the brave action and demands of movements like Fight for $15, United We Dream and Black Lives Matter, the Democratic Party is finally offering a robust official platform to improve the lives of today’s working class, not the one of my father’s generation. After decades in which working-class plight went largely overlooked by the Democrats in favor of a more centrist, pro-business stance, the party’s progressive economic shift should claim broad support among the new working class. As noted in my book, Sleeping Giant, unlike a generation ago, today’s working class is multiracial and much more female—more than one-third of today’s working class are people of color. Nearly half (47 percent) of today’s young working class, those aged 25-34, are not white people. And two-thirds of non-college educated women are in the paid labor force, up from about half in 1980.
The Democratic Party, both through its platform and its candidate, supports higher wages, paid sick days, affordable child care, college without debt and reifying the right to a union. With a platform more progressive than any in recent history, especially on economic and racial justice issues, there should be no doubt that the Democratic Party is the champion of the working class, at least on the merits. But most people don’t read party platforms or study policy positions. Instead, they listen and watch, waiting for cues that a candidate “gets” them and is actually talking to them.
For despite the platform language and Hillary Clinton’s stated positions, the Democratic Party hasn’t been talking to the working class. The words “working class” seem all but erased from the Democratic lexicon—in its speeches, ads and on its social media. The party’s language still clings to vague notions of “working people” or “hard-working Americans” or the false notion of a ubiquitous “middle class.” It may well be that the party has bought the political spin that “working class” is code for “white and male”—but actually, it’s people of color who are much more likely to consider themselves working class. And as the party of racial and social justice, Democrats are missing a big opportunity to sell its economic platform to this new working class.
The General Social Survey, a long-running public opinion survey, found in 2014 that 46 percent of respondents identified themselves as working class compared to 42 percent who identify as middle class. Black and Latino individuals were much more likely than whites to identify as working class. Six out of 10 Latinos and 56 percent of blacks consider themselves working class, compared to just 42 percent of whites. In fact, in every year since the early 1970s, the percentage of Americans who identify as working class has ranged between 44 and 50 percent. Interestingly, younger people are also more likely to consider themselves working class, with 55 percent of 18-29 year olds identifying as working class compared to 36 percent who identify as middle class.
Yet Trump has won the rhetorical war for the working class—despite his pitch being narrowly tailored to disaffected white men. There is no doubt in my mind that the Democratic Party is the party of the working class—white, black and brown—at least substantively. But by failing to explicitly use the term “working class,” the party risks not being heard by the very voters who have the most at stake in this election.
Tamara Draut is vice president of policy and research at Demos, a liberal think tank. Follow her on Twitter: @tamaradraut.
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Posted by Tespid on July 30, 2016
“The world goes on fighting cold little wars
but we must unite and all fight with one cause”
— The Ugly’s, “The Quiet Explosion”
He was described as a “seething compound of hostilities reaching critical mass.” On a blazing August day, Joseph Whitman, 25, a student of architectural engineering at the University of Texas and honorably discharged from the Marines, barricaded himself, high-above, in an observation tower where he methodically killed 13 and wounded 31 others. An act of such wanton violence, according to Time, that “seized his grisly fame as the perpetrator of the worst mass murder in recent U.S. history.” Whitman symbolized a “Gun Toting Nation” and the “Symptoms of Mass Murder.” The year was 1966.
Propagated by a nostalgic national media, suggestions abound that today’s discord and disorder compare squarely with the “social-political turmoil of 1968.” However convenient, that is wrong. A better assessment reveals that conditions in 2016 are more reminiscent of 1966 – a year of “careening momentum” in pop culture and politics.
In his fascinating book, 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded, Jon Savage writes that 1966 was an amalgamation of “noise and tumult, of brightly coloured patterns clashing with black and white politics, of furious forward motion and an outraged, awakening reaction… and a willingness to strive towards seeking the unattainable.” Eerily parallel, this describes 2016.
Savage’s excavation recalls: escalation in Vietnam (today, ISIS and the escalating War on Terror); assertive Black Power ideologues amidst racial tension (today, Black Lives Matter); civil rights movements and the quest for “social and sexual liberation” (today, workplace Equal Pay and transgender rights); rampant drug consumption – LSD, amphetamines (today, heroin and prescription opioids); and psychotic mass violence (today, home-grown terror and global jihad). These were, he concludes, the “cluster of enemies and subversions that appeared to be threatening the country’s way of life.” Rather starkly, he observes that “the old certainties were under attack, the nation riven.”
Culturally, things were moving at warp speed; politically, Savages notes, “the middle ground was eroding” (the New Right and Ronald Reagan’s election as California’s governor). The year was marked by division and dissension even among groups normally neutral (pop icons increasingly had to choose between entertainer or activist).
Much of the anxiety and anguish felt 50 years ago can be attributed to the Vietnam experience, certainly, but also because of the specter of nuclear holocaust. But why was it so acute in 1966?
Savage theorizes “subtle maths,” as an explanation.
World War I ended in 1918 and World War II began in 1939. Twenty-one years. With WW II ending in 1945 and rising global hostilities since then (Berlin, Cuba Missile Crisis, Vietnam and feverish nuclear testing), if “history was going to repeat itself… the Third World War would begin in 1966.” Twenty-one years.
Much of the apprehension and angst felt today by the GOP can be traced not to fear, specifically, but, rather, a document: The Contract With America, implemented in 1995. Twenty-one years ago. It is the party’s quiet explosion, the psychic radiation of which still lingers.
The Contract “tuned in to the American electorate’s deep yearning for reform in Washington.” Largely a political ploy – it did usher in the Republican majority in the House in 1994 – its legacy was fleeting. Aside from certain procedural reforms, it never really reformed government. Some derided it as a contract on America.
Smoldering demands for reform went unsatiated.
Last decade saw the rise of the Tea Party (remember their “Contract From America”?). In 2010, House Republicans devised the “Pledge to America,” another attempt to change the culture of Washington. Then-House Republican Chair, Mike Pence, called it a “bold initiative that’s marked by powerful ideas, to get our government’s fiscal house in order.” Even with Republicans majorities in the House (2011) and Senate (2015), the documents were largely forgotten and the reforms largely unfulfilled.
Against this backdrop of political unrest and rebellion, sensing no other option, Republicans have chosen a pop creation – not politician – to be their standard bearer, seemingly to give the party a new identity and circumvent the hegemonic conspiracy of Establishment Washington, all to effect reform.
For the GOP, Donald Trump is its “19th Nervous Breakdown” (“center of the crowd, talking much too loud”) and 2016 will mark the year the GOP exploded.
A tycoon and television personality, he is 2016’s pop star — but projects like 1966’s Rolling Stones (“harsh tones”) and works like 1966’s Velvet Underground (who were “not operating by the rules of the arena that they had chosen to work in”). Back then a principal means of conveying popular “ideas, attitudes, [and] lyrics” was the 45-single, which expressed these sentiments with “extraordinary electricity and creativity in two-to-three minutes.” Trump, the personification of polarity, generates, transmits and distributes his loose electricity of ideas through the compression of Twitter, today’s 45.
Speaking before a complex nation of 320 million people at the GOP convention, Trump said “I alone can fix” that which ails us. Islamic terrorism? (“We’re going to win fast”) Healthcare? (He will “repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare”). The next day, not content to focus on policy matters, he glowed over getting “good marks” on television and harped about tweeting and Facebook.
As a kind of sobering premonition, Savage, in his captivating history, reminds us of this quandary: “The problem with pop culture of the 1960s – exciting and innovative as it was – was that it set up expectations and desires that could never be satisfied.”
The same may be said of Trump in 2016, this year’s disposable avatar.
James P. Freeman is a New England-based writer and a former Cape Cod Times columnist. Read his past columns here.
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